Fast food chains are serving up kids meals dangerously high in salt, according to new research by the World Action on Salt and Health.
The study, which examined fast food in 37 countries, also found the amount of salt in kids meals varies widely around the world.
It found eight out of 10 meals had more than one gram of salt, which is more than the recommended serving in one sitting for a child between 4 and 6.
A KFC kids’ meal in Costa Rica contained 18 teaspoons more salt than in the UK.
‘On a more positive note it is good to see that the children’s turkey sub sold by Subway contains the same level of salt as the lowest in the world, although nearly a gram of salt is still too high’.
In South Africa the saltiest children’s meal turned out to be a KFC kiddie’s burger and chips. The corresponding meal in Turkey, the highest, had 2.4g of salt.
The biggest offenders in Australia were KFC’s popcorn chicken and fries with 1.86 grams of salt – more than twice the salt as the same meal in the UK. That same meal sold in the United Kingdom, though, contains 0.9 grams of salt.
“This is leading to hypertension, diabetes, high cholesterol and obesity, and that’s driving premature death and disability and health care costs”.
WASH said that other countries should learn from the UK’s successful salt reduction programme, which has set clear targets for the food industry to achieve, to gradually reduce salt added to processed food.
KFC said it has also been committed to reformulating a number of its products and ingredients to reduce the salt content in its food worldwide. Food makers have been allowed to take a slow approach so that consumers don’t notice the difference in taste as the salt content drops. These include heightened chances of heart failure, increased blood pressure, and stroke.
Salt intake has fallen in the UK by 15 per cent between 2001 and 2011, which has prevented thousands of strokes and heart attacks.
“At the last minute, in 2011, the government basically said it was going to be entirely voluntary, without any monitoring or oversight”.